Auto shop

1 injured after explosion at South St. Louis auto shop

ST. LOUIS – An explosion at an auto repair shop in South St. Louis injured an employee and caused the building to partially collapse.

The explosion occurred in the basement of the Master Auto Repair on Hampton Avenue. An employee was trying to get out of the building when he saw the fireball and the roof start to collapse.

The west side of the building was heavily damaged. The employee appears to have injured his arm. He was treated on the spot and then transported to the hospital, but he will be fine.

Authorities said at least six employees were inside the building at the time.

“Luckily everyone was able to get out of there safely,” said St. Louis City Fire Captain Leon Whitener. “It could have been worse than it is.”

A passerby said firefighters went door to door to search for a gas leak. Authorities later confirmed that natural gas was not a factor.

“We did not detect any broken gas lines of this nature,” Whitener said. “The theory we’re following right now is that a worker is welding. We believe this worker may have ignited an oil pan. Oil vapors from the oil may have been ignited.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the explosion. It is not known if the owner plans to rebuild.